In today’s modern world consumers are served with an amazingly wide range of choices than ever before with a stream of sophisticated and well planned PR sales campaigns that at times it becomes practically impossible for the consumers to not to get swayed away. But to buy economically, as well as to reduce waste, safeguard health and protect the environment, one need to follow some basic principles, to learn to interpret the claims of company’s as well as the salesperson, and have a clear about what exactly you want.
HEALTH HAZARDS OF PLASTICS
Plastics represent a massive environmental problem faced by the world these days. Not only they require high energy for production and pollute the environment but also at the same time it is important to take a note of the fact that only a handful few are recyclable. Plastics don’t undergo the process of decaying and even if they are incinerated then also more than 90 per cent of the waste still remains toxic. The volatile organic compounds formed by soft plastics leach into food, thereby, causing irritation, depression, headaches nausea and respiratory- system damage . Another chemical popularly used in plastics it flexibility is phthalates which has often been linked to reproductive defects, endometriosis, fibrocystic breast disease and birth defects. In recent studies it is indicated that phthalates might be carcinogenic in nature which is definitely a matter of concern as given the role that plastic plays in our lives now.Plastic materials also have adverse effects on our health too as often the chemicals leach out into the food. Before reheating ordered / takeaway food in a microwave oven one should make a point of transferring the food item into ceramic or glass dish for the waves emitted by the same shoots up the speed by which the chemicals are transferred to the food. This is more likely to happen in hot and fatty food products.
Plastics have a highly detrimental effect on the environment also. But given that our lives are greatly dependent on the same all, we can do is atleast reduce how often we use these materials till the time we find an economically viable substitute for the same. Think about the amount of plastic bags, clear wraps and the containers made from plastic you have used in a day / week and then try to set a target to reduce their use.
ALTERNATIVES OF PLASTICS
One can use ceramic, bone china and glass containers to store food instead of the plastic one. Aim to reuse your polythene bag for atleast 5 times before discarding off. Look for paper bags instead of the plastic ones. Instead of reaching for a standard plastic bag carefully choose biodegradable bags instead. They might c
ost you a bit more than a standard plastic bag but will biodegrade in about 3-4 months and in this way we can definitely contribute our little bit of help in conserving our environment. Such bags are often made from starch, derived from sources such as corn, potato etc. It is always better to carry your own cloth shopping bags while going for shopping than asking for plastic ones from the shopkeepers , and if you still plan to go for the plastic ones than make sure you that you put as many items in one as possible – assuming they are not too heavy . Another option is to go for a cellulose bag, not only it eco-friendly but at the same time is far much more durable than any of the available plastic bag.
Do you know if the Styrofoam cups in Australia each year were placed end to end, they would encircle the world 10 times! Recycling plastic into new material requires just 30 per cent of the energy needed to make plastics from fossils fuels. Try to cut down the use of plastic lined cans or tetra packs as well as try to avoid prepacked food too. Such foods are not only high in salt content which is rather unhealthy but also tribute to environmental pollution too as they come in fancy plastic bags. If the glossy plastic bags still attract your attention then it is better to look for the bags with recyclable signs for the same.
Polycarbonate is one of the several plastics grouped together and identified by a number 7 inside the triangle symbol. Baby feeding bottles are usually made up of clear plastic have polycarbonate, studies have shown that one minute heating of the same leaches out Bisphenol A, a hormone disrupter . One should look for glass or some other more safer types of plastic bottles for feeding purposes. Plastic water bottles also contribute greatly to the environmental pollution in terms of both manufacture as well as disposal. Therefore, it is most of the times wise and advisable to use tap water, as it is not only cost efficient and economical but also more eco- friendly method at the same time.
Dispose off plastic containers that show any sign of discolouration or cracks start appearing as these signs might be indicating leaching of harmful chemicals into your food. Try to avoid using harsh dishwasher liquids, detergents or soaps as might cause plastic to break down and become toxic. Therefore, it is always advisable to hand clean them using a mild soap, detergent or a dishwashing liquid using a lukewarm or warm water.
Therefore, it can be concluded that though we can certainly not completely eliminate plastic from our daily lives in the current scenario but can certainly contribute our little for the betterment of our future and as well as well as of others by protecting our environment.
“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.” – Theodore Roosevelt